Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president and leader of the left-wing Workers Party is due to be impeached, after a senate vote of 59-21, ensured a trial will take place.
The trial comes after accusations that Rousseff misled the Brazilian public about the country’s finances during her re-election campaign and kept the worst of the country’s economic issues quiet until, after she was re-elected, last November.
After a lengthy debate on Wednesday 10th August, that was mainly devoted to discussing the accusations against her, the senate voted with a large majority to put her to trial.
Those accusing her claim she also lied about payments being made on welfare programmes, aimed at tackling poverty and reducing tax bills for the public, that were put in place by her popular predecessor Lula Da Silva.
Rousseff’s presidency has been fraught with issues, with her involvement with the Petrobras scandal tainting her image with the public.
Petrobras, a state-owned oil company, was found guilty of widespread corruption, after former chief Paulo Roberto Costa was arrested on money laundering charges, and in exchange for a lighter sentence, revealed large-scale fraudulent dealings between Petrobras and various construction companies. Suspicious payments to the tune of $3.6 billion dollars were unearthed during the investigation in 2014.
The payments were made during Rousseff’s time as chairman of the company, and she stands accused of being both aware and involved in the illegal deals, however, currently no proof of her involvement has been unearthed.
She denies any involvement but her popularity plummeted after the scandal was revealed, with her approval rating dropping to 13% and mass protests in March, attended by hundreds of thousands, calling for her impeachment. Amongst those protesting were public service workers such as police officers and firefighters, who claimed they were not being paid on time.
The Brazilian economy is on very shaky ground, with the worst recession the country has seen in decades continuing and extreme poverty rates rising across the country.
Since Rousseff’s suspension in May, the interim presidential replacement is Michael Temer, a legislator, and long-time politician. If Rousseff is found guilty, Temer will likely continue as president until the next general election.
Since Brazil is not due another general election until 2018, calls have been made to bring the election forward, due to the political instability that the impeachment and recent Petrobras scandal has created.